Writing Workshop Constructing your College Essay

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Writing Workshop Constructing your College Essay

Session Overview

  • Purpose of the Essay
  • Choosing a Topic
  • Brainstorming
  • The Rough Draft
  • Editing and Proofreading
  • Dos and Don’ts
  • Essay Examples

Purpose of the Essay

  • To showcase your writing skills and ability to organize and present material in a clear and concise fashion.
  • To give the admissions committee insight into your personality and interests, especially if the university does not offer interviews.
  • To convey a sense of your goals, beliefs, values and achievements in a way that brings your application to life.

Choosing a Topic

  • Some essays may have a specific topic while others may be open-ended…

Choosing a Topic

  • “Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.”
  • “Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.”
  • “Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.”
  • “Tell us abut a talent, experience or personal quality you would bring to our campus.”

Another essay topic that many colleges and universities include in their application will ask you to describe your reasons for applying to their school.

  • Another essay topic that many colleges and universities include in their application will ask you to describe your reasons for applying to their school.
  • “Students consider many different factors when applying to college. Briefly discuss who or what influenced your decision to apply to _________.”
  • “Describe your reasons for selecting _________ and your personal and professional goals and plans for after college.”

Beginning the Essay: Brainstorming

  • Spend a few weeks jotting down ideas you could write about. Deciding what to write about is often the hardest part of the essay process!
  • Use essay questions as an outline to generate as many ideas as you can think of that would fit those topics.
  • Keep a journal handy with a list of all ideas, examples and personal topics you come up with.
  • Think of how others would describe you and stories that would display that.

Getting it on Paper: The Rough Draft

  • Outline your essay by combining ideas in the format of introduction, body, and ending.
  • Maintain focus on your topic throughout.
  • Start writing and don’t stop until you get all of your ideas out. Don’t worry much about grammar, punctuation or flow – you can deal with this in the editing stage.

Editing and Proofreading

  • After completing the draft, set your essay aside for a few days before beginning to revise it.
  • Print a hard copy of your essay. Errors will be easier to spot on paper than a computer screen.
  • Make sure the body of the essay supports the intro paragraph and/or topic. Similarly be sure the final paragraph wraps up the essay and concludes your ideas.
  • Check for fragments, run-on sentences, spelling errors and redundancy.
  • Get rid of sentences and words that seem irrelevant. Use the fewest words possible to express your point.
  • Read the essay aloud to get a good sense of how it flows. Sometimes you will notice errors when you say them out loud rather than simply reading them.
  • Have someone else review the essay before you submit it. A fresh pair of eyes may be able to offer suggestions you have not thought of.

Some questions to ask yourself while editing:

  • Some questions to ask yourself while editing:
  • Does the introduction grab the reader’s attention without explaining the topic all in the first sentence?
  • Is there one consistent theme/idea to the essay?
  • Is the essay easy to read and does it flow from one paragraph to the next?
  • Would someone else understand what I am trying to convey just by reading the essay without explaining it to them?
  • Does the essay answer the prompt?
  • Did my reader learn something new about me?

Essay Dos and Don’ts

  • Do…
  • Use one consistent theme or topic throughout the essay.
  • Keep your topic personal – remember you are the expert on your life!
  • Allow others to review your drafts for feedback and suggestions.
  • Adhere to the essay topic and word limit.
  • Make sure the essay tells something about YOU.
  • Use specific examples to tell your story.
  • Turn negatives into positives.
  • Use your own voice and writing style.
  • Don’t…
  • Rely on spell check – many words may be spelled right but used in the wrong context.
  • Try to hit on too many points.
  • Use the same essay for multiple essay prompts.
  • Write what you think the admissions committee wants to read.
  • Use the essay as a resume. Write about something you have not already presented in your application.
  • Try to use large, intellectual words just to impress the audience.

Essay Examples

  • Read the essay.
  • What was the topic of the essay?
  • What did you like about the essay? What didn’t you like?
  • Take notes on how you could use a similar topic or technique to tell your story.


Remember this is just one component of the application process. The essay will most likely not make or break an application, but a well-written essay can be the deciding factor for close-calls. Be yourself in your writing and you will do great!

Directory: admissions
admissions -> Monroe college jumpstart program essay
admissions -> The deadline to submit your supplemental materials (secondary application and the required letters of recommendation) is March 15, 2014. However, we encourage all applicants to submit materials as early as possible
admissions -> A non-refundable application fee of $90. 00 is required. (Please make check/money order payable to umdnj-som). Please return your secondary application to
admissions -> University of madras [Established under the Act of Incorporation XXVII of 1857 – Madras University Act 1923]
admissions -> B. A. R&S file. University of madras m. A degree courses choice based credit system regulations
admissions -> For students of the real world
admissions -> Img src= data: image/jpeg
admissions -> Writing across the curriculum
admissions -> Department of Geology The Department of Geology was established in 1952

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